December 9th, 2009

Ann Vole

The Inuit and personal hygene

Living with minimal heat and no water (because it is a bother to drain the water lines and adding plumbers antifreeze to the drains after turning on the water) makes personal hygene a bit of a challenge. For the recent history of the Inuit (otherwise known as "Eskimos") living in rather cold buildings that use snow as insulation was the norm. Earlier, ot is believed that buildings insulated with fur, grass, peat, and earth made winter housing that was likely warmed closer to room temperature. Of course now fuel or electricity is used in well-insulated buildings to make for a modern but expensive way to live. I am curious what lifestyle adaptations the Inuit have employed to maintain personal hygene while living in just slightly-above-freezing small, crowded buildings of snow for several months of the winters. I just use public washrooms to wash and change undergarments and heat single rooms as (and when) I use them. I might want to explore remote areas of the Canadian Arctic in the colder months so such skills will be handy. Radiant heating, especially with high power and making walls and ceiling radiant along with the floor (6 times the surface) should be able to heat a room from very cold to comfortable in seconds so that leaves the possibility of an unoccupied house to drop below freezing if nobody is around and the heat is controlled by occupancy detection. This is obvously a problem if you have water or sewer pipes in the rooms or if you use a radiant heating working fluid that can freeze (like water). When pumping a fluid through thousands of feet of pipes in the floors and walls, you don't want something toxic or an envionmental disaster to leak into the ground. This makes vegetable oil as a working fluid as one of the very few choices. For water, there are a few types of plastic potable water pipes that are not damaged by water freezing in them. That is one option but it takes a lot of heat and thus a lot of time to melt that ice making things inconvenient for the occupants. Because of this, I think I might have to plumb all the lines to allow them to drain when not in use. Because the best place to store hot water is in the roof if it is being pre-heated by solar, I think having the water controlled at the source and then always drains out the tap-end of the pipes makes for the most simple design. It will require a valve to open the top of the pipe to air when the user turns off the water. Refrigeration and food storage also needs to remain temperature controlled as well as rooms containing plants so there are some other design challenges to consider. Living in thee cold will help me discover all the possible problems to such a dramatic occupancy-detection-controlled radiant heating system. This post was made in three different times so that is why the topic kind of wondered. That is one result of using a cel phone as a "computer". My new cel phone is having lots of problems with the cold due to the wimpy battery that is a type that is (appearantly) not supposed to be charged when cold. Compact flouresent light bulbs also have a bit of a problem starting up in the cold. I might have to "bite the bullet" and buy more LED lights that use normal 120 v sockets (I bought one already) simply so the bulbs cam handle being turned on in the cold as someone enters a room before the heating system heats the room up quickly.
Ann Vole

Environmentalists and watermelons

I was watching the commentary track of the documentary "The End of Suburbia" where one of the directors was joking that "environmentalists are like watermelons; green on the outside and red on the inside". I found that funny but sadly true. Everybody assumes I am a leftist or liberal or communist when I start going on about peek oil or alternate energy or saving wild spaces. I am very much against that side of politics (although see some aspects of social welfare that needs to be addressed... just not through the government). I am also against the other side of government too and any sort of relience on big business nor do I agree with the benefits of free trade and world bank planning. The solution to any problem is never found with money or giving up control of your life...the solution is only found in what you do yourself.